Coastal and marine


New Zealand administers the sixth largest marine environment in the world. It is 21.8 times the area of the land.  The territorial sea extends out to 12 nautical miles from land.  Within the territorial sea the Resource Management Act 1991, Fisheries Act 1996, Wildlife Act 1953 protected area provisions, and the Marine Reserves Act 1971 apply.  The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends from the territorial sea to 200 nautical miles from land.  Within the EEZ the Fisheries Act 1996, Wildlife Act 1953 (excluding protected area provisions) and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 apply.  The area of the combined territorial sea and EEZ is 4,105,400 square kilometres.  New Zealand controls all economic resources within the TS and EEZ.  The extended continental shelf (ECS) is the area between the EEZ and the outer limits of the continental margin.  This totals another 1,751,700 square kilometres.  In this area New Zealand has rights to resources on or under the seabed, but not the water column.

New Zealand’s marine environment contains a diverse range of habitats and species. About 16,000 species have been identified but there are many that have not yet been named and described.  It is possible that up to 80% of New Zealand’s biodiversity is in the marine environment.

Ecklonia radiata forest in the outer Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Ecklonia forest

Project examples

Mapping of area-based restrictive provisions in the EEZ

In 2004 Pacific Eco-Logic joined with GeographX  to identify the attributes of the area-based restrictive provisions in the New Zealand territorial sea and the EEZ, and map the boundaries of each restriction. This was for the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Fisheries.  Mapped areas included provisions identified in primary legislation, regulations or Gazette Notice under Fisheries Act regulations; the Marine Reserves Act 1971 Gazette notices; the Submarine Pipelines and Cables Act 1996 and its orders; and various tools under the  Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978,  the Wildlife Act 1953, the Reserves Act 1977, and the Conservation Act 1987.

Subtidal ecological assessment of the Wairarapa Coast from Castlepoint to Cape Palliser

Scientific subtidal ecological assessment along the Wairarapa coast is logistically difficult due to the absence of boat launching areas; and adverse wind, swell and sea conditions that persist much of the time. We completed the assessment of eight locations for the Department of Conservation, but conditions and competition for time on a commercial fishing vessel meant that we were unable to complete the assessment of additional locations in the time available.  A comprehensive report was prepared and public presentations were made.

Developing a marine environment monitoring programme

In this project we assisted a multi-agency team to prepare a New Zealand marine environment monitoring programme for the Ministry of Primary Industries. Our contributions included analysing marine environment policy and assessing potential parameters.  This built on Pacific Eco-Logic’s earlier work with the Ministry for Environment and its Environmental Performance Indicators Programme (EPIP).

Establishing a baseline for shallow subtidal cover and the extent of kina barrens in the outer Bay of Islands

In this project we assessed percent cover for different algal species and categories of cover; and percent cover for sea urchin barrens in the 3-10 metre depth zone where urchin barrens are typically found in northern New Zealand. These urchin barrens occur because the predators of urchins have been fished to low numbers and small sizes.  These predators are then unable to adequately control urchin numbers.  In long- term marine reserves where urchins are adequately controlled by predators these urchin barrens are absent.  For this study more than 560 sites were assessed and analysed.


Please see the heading “Coastal and marine” in the Publications page.